Penetration Testing (Pen Test) refers to the activity of systematically attempting to violate a vulnerable component of a system to discover the security breaches in it through a simulated attack.
The professional figure that performs such testing is a security analyst acting as a proper hacker. He or she has the task of breaking the system under assessment by following an attack strategy.
This service is vital because real hackers may exploit any breaches with ease if an organization does them know them in time.
Damage associated with such violations may include data theft, unauthorized access to sensitive files, service disruption, and many more.
Penetration Testing should not be confused with vulnerability assessment, another security service performed for other scopes and other tools.
Being a vital cybersecurity operation, Penetration Testing is everything but an easy activity. Beyond the actual simulated hacking, it consists of many phases and stages before the client receives a proper report.
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Pen Test’s main characteristics
As we have mentioned above, pen testing is a crucial security activity.
A simulated attack assesses the overall security of the targeted assets. It consists of many phases:
1. Detection of an exploitable vulnerability
2. Planning an attack strategy against it
3. Testing the attack
4. Seizing a line in usage
5. Exploiting access to gather information
Non-experts often associate Pen Tests with a vulnerability assessment. Specifically, the latter is more about a scan of an IT system looking for vulnerabilities.
Thus, vulnerability assessments may be the preliminary phase of Pen Test.
Pen Test, instead, goes straight to the point: it acts as a systematic attack against an IT, software, application component known to be vulnerable.
Penetration Testing: tester’s profile
The professional figure that usually performs Penetration Testing activity is the security analyst.
Security analysts perform as responsible for a company’s cyber and digital security. They protect its IT infrastructure. Also, they detect and prevent threats through a complex process of intelligence gathering.
Their main skills encompass data analysis and mining, statistical analysis, and knowledge of main pen test platforms. Programming skills, furthermore, are a must they should possess.
To conclude, Penetration Testing is vital security activity. Without it, threat actors would exploit many vulnerabilities with relative ease.
It also prepares personnel on how to handle a breach. Moreover, this activity tests whether the company’s security policy works.
Finally, they provide solutions that help companies design more resilient security.
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